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Introducing: The Royal Family of Monaco
Prince Rainier III (1923-2005) Rainier’s mother, Princess Charlotte, was actually illegitimate. Her father Louis II, getting older and with no legitimate children, legitimized her and made her his heir. She never took the throne, and in fact renounced her rights to her son, Rainier, the day before his 21st birthday. Rainier became the Sovereign Prince of Monaco upon the death of his grandfather in 1949. During WW2, Rainier served in the Free French Army. During the 40s and 50s he was in a long term relationship with the French film actress Gisele Pascal. Rainier’s sister, Princess Antoinette, wanted her own son to ascend to the throne, and spread rumors that Pascal was infertile. The rumors along with her treatment by the press and public ended their relationship. After the war Monaco, a country who made its money primarily as a gambling origin, was in crisis as wealthy Europeans found their funds diminished after the war. To restore Monaco’s treasury Rainier decided to promote Monaco as a tax haven, and he personally took control of SBM (the company who owns the Monte Carlo Casino, Opera, and Hostel de Paris) in 1964. Prince Albert still retains a large share of the company and profits from it today. Marriage: Everyone knows this one. Rainier married American film star Grace Kelly in 1956. Their marriage is rumored to have been turbulent. It is said that Grace struggled with adjusting to royal life, regretted ending her film career, and that Rainier had extramarital affairs. Her children have stated that though she was a loving mother, they spent more time with nannies than with their parents. Grace's dress is iconic, but here you go if you want to revisit some photos from that day. Rainier smoked up to 60 cigarettes per day, and in the last years of his life his health steadily declined. On March 8th, 2005 he entered the hospital for a lung infection and by the end of the month he was on a ventilator suffering from renal and heart failure. On March 31st he officially announced his son Albert, as regent, and on April 6th he died. The Constitution Monaco’s constitution stated that Monaco is a constitutional monarchy ruled by the hereditary princes of the Grimaldi. If the reigning prince were to die without leaving a male heir, Monaco, according to the treaty, would be incorporated into France. In 2002, realizing he had a 43 year old bachelor son, Rainier amended the constitution to allow the crown to pass to his daughters should Albert not marry. Grace, Princess of Monaco (1929-1982) Grace was born in Philadelphia to an affluent and influential family. Her father was an Olympian and a Democratic nominee for Mayor of Philadelphia and was appointed by President Roosevelt as National Director of Physical Fitness. Her mother taught physical education at the University of Pennsylvania and coached women’s athletics at Penn. Her Uncle, George Kelly, was a Pulitzer prize winning dramatist, screenwriter, and director and used his influence to gain Grace admission to the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York. Grace became one of the biggest movie stars of her generation. In 1955 she was sent to the Cannes Film Festival and invited to appear in photos with Prince Rainier. After a year-long courtship, they were married in 1956. Grace was not allowed to continue her acting career after her marriage. She instead devoted herself to her role as Princess, become heavily involved with the Red Cross of Monaco and the Rainbow Children Coalition. On September 13, 1982, Kelly was driving back to Monaco after spending time at her country home. During the drive she had a stroke, lost control of her vehicle, and drove off the mountainside. She died a day later. An article on their relationship Prince Albert II (b. 1958) Prince Albert is one of the wealthiest royals in the world with a net worth at more than $1B. He attended Amherst College in Massachusetts, studying political science, economics, music, and English literature, and completed his education with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science. He toured Europe in 1979 as part of the Amherst College Glee Club. Albert competed in the bobsleigh for five consecutive Winter Olympics on behalf of Monaco, and was their flag bearer at the 1988, 1994, and 1998 Olympics. He is also a judo black belt. He became Prince of Monaco when his father died in 2005. Marriage: Prior to his marriage his status as a bachelor was a hot topic of discussion. He was known to date well-known fashion models and actresses, however at age 53 had never married. It was rumored that Albert was gay, something he expressed great frustration with in the press. In 2006 he attended the opening ceremony of the Torino Olympics with South African swimmer Charlene Wittstock. They were engaged in 2010, and married in 2011. There are rumors that Charlene tried to flee the country the day before their wedding. It is reported that the future bride, after discovering Albert may have fathered yet another child during their relationship, attempted to flee as many as three times before their wedding, however was always intercepted at the airport. It is also said she attempted to seek refuge at the South African embassy, and that officials in Monaco ended up hiding her passport so she could not leave the country. Moreover, during their wedding, Charlene openly cried at parts, and Prince Albert was caught on camera begging her to kiss him. Honestly, she looked pretty miserable the whole time. The palace has denied all of these claims. During their honeymoon, they stayed in separate hotels Here's everything you ever needed to know about their wedding Watch it Prince Albert is passionate about the environment and an avid sportsman. Prince Albert speaks French, English, German, and Italian. He speaks English with basically no accent thanks to his American mother. Illegitimate Children In 2005, the day before Prince Rainier died, Albert publicly acknowledged he had fathered a son out of wedlock. In 2006, he confirmed he had also fathered a daughter. These children were barred from the line of inheritance because of a 2002 constitutional amendment requiring an heir’s parents to be married. Alexandre (b. 2003) Alexandre’s mother (Nicole Coste) was a flight attendant for Air France and met Prince Albert when he was a passenger on a flight. He asked for her number, the beginning of a years-long affair. The relationship ended at the insistence of Prince Rainier. Albert visited Alexandre and Nicole often, however when he refused to acknowledge Alexandre publicly, Nicole sold an interview and pictures to the media. Albert was in mourning for his father and made no public comment, but later did acknowledge paternity. Alexandre and Nicole live in France at an estate given to them by Albert. Jazmin (b. 1992) Jazmin’s mother, Tamara, met Albert while working as a waitress. Albert knew of Jazmin and visited her, however did not acknowledge her publicly until she was in high school to protect her identity. In 2006 the French magazine Voici published photographs of Jazmin and her mother on a visit to Monaco, outing her as Albert’s daughter. She has attended events with Albert and Charlene, and is listed as a sponsor for her father’s royal foundation. An interview with Jazmin Princess Charlene (b. 1978) Born in Zimbabwe, Charlene’s family relocated to South Africa in 1989. She represented South Africa at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, finished fifth in the 4x100 meter relay. Albert and Charlene met at the Mare Nostrum swimming competition in Monaco in 2000, however were not seen together until 2006. Charlene converted to Roman Catholicism for her wedding, and has learned French and Monegasque after her move to Monaco. She is an ambassador for the Special Olympics, patron of the South African Red Cross, and is passionate about sport. In recent news, she completed “the crossing” water bike challenge, a 180 kilometer water bike race for charity. An interview with Charlene and Albert on the 1st birthday of their twins Albert and Charlene have 2 children: Hereditary Prince Jacques *twin* (b. 2014) Princess Gabriella *twin* (b. 2014) Gabriella was born 2 minutes before her brother, however because of the constitution her brother will inherit the throne. They are super sweet together and you see them at events often. Princess Caroline of Hanover (b. 1957) Caroline is the eldest child of Rainier and Grace Kelly, however because of the constitution her brother, Albert, sits on the throne of Monaco. She served as de facto first lady of Monaco until the marriage of Albert and Charlene. Until the birth of her niece and nephew she was heir presumptive to the throne, although she had only held that title since 2005 after the change of the constitution to include female heirs. Caroline received her French baccalaureat in 1974, and received a degree in Philosophy from Sorbonne University. She is fluent in French, English, Spanish, German, and Italian. Her hobbies include horseback riding, swimming, and skiing. Marriages:
Marriage 1: Philippe Junot
Married Phillippe, a Parisian banker, in 1978. The couple divorced in 1980 with no children.
Marriage 2: Stefano Casiraghi
Married Stefano in 1983, the sportsman heir to an Italian industrial fortune. The two had to marry in a civil ceremony rather than a religious ceremony because Caroline, a Catholic, was divorced. Caroline was 3 months pregnant at the time of their wedding. They have three children:
Note: The Casiraghi’s are all very beautiful and very fashionable but I don’t want to go much into them here because they are so far down the line of succession. They’re fun to follow for their fashion if you have the time to check them out.
Marriage 3: Prince Ernst August of Hanover
Married Ernst August, a Prince, in 1999. They have one daughter, Princess Alexandra. Caroline is thus a Princess twice-over, through her family and through her husband. She and Ernst August have been separated since 2009 however are still legally married, thus she retains the title of Princess Caroline of Hanover. Read about all of her weddings here See her speaking in English around 12:00 here Princess Stephanie (b. 1965) Stephanie was in the vehicle with her mother when Grace died. She suffered a fracture of the neck. She has studied classical dance and piano, and competed in gymnastics and horse riding. She interned at Christian Dior and debuted as a model in 1984. She has a swimwear and perfume line, and owns cafes and stores in both Monaco and Barcelona. She also has sold more than 2 million copies of her song, Ouragan, and sold 1.5M copies of her album Besoin. She recorded “In the Closet” with Michael Jackson, however is listed as “mystery girl” in the credits. Marriages/Relationships:
Marriage 1: Daniel Ducruet
Stephanie married her former body guard, Daniel Ducruet, in 1995. When Rainier learned of their relationship Daniel was not only still his employee, but had a pregnant girlfriend too. Stephanie gave birth to their two children “out of wedlock” because Rainier refused to grant permission for them to marry, however eventually relented. The two divorced a year later after Ducruet was photographed naked with a stripper. Read more They have two children:
Stephanie met elephant trainer (yeah, you read that right) when she presented him with the award for “best animal tamer” at the Monaco Circus Festival in 1997. Franco, a decade older than Stephanie, was married with two children at the time. Franco left his family for Stephanie, moving her and her three children into his circus caravan in Zurich. Marrying in 2001, their relationship lasted 18 months until their divorce. An interview with Stephanie in English in 1990 Why is he a Prince and not a King? From vogue: It goes back deep into the history of Monaco. Monaco has always been a tiny nation, and, for protection, allied itself with (or, at some points, was flat-out annexed by) big powerful countries, with big powerful rulers—aka kingdoms, or, a nation ruled by a king or queen. So Monaco’s rulers styled themselves as prince and princess. That, by definition, made the nation a principality, or one ruled by prince or princess. Regardless, Albert actually plays a bigger role in the day to day operations of the country than most of his European peers. Legislative power is divided between the Prince who initiates the laws, and the National Council who votes on them. Executive power is retained by the Prince, and he has full judiciary powers. Jewels See their tiara collection I think the Ocean Tiara, gifted to Charlene for her wedding, is particularly interesting. You either love it or you hate it. The Grimaldi Curse What do you think?
Trump has attempted to get the presidency many times in the past
The beginning When Q is saying “Was Trump asked to run for President w/ assurances made to prevent tampering?” my initial thought was that the alliance asked him to run some time before the 2016 election but with a little bit of research it becomes obvious that this is not the case. So, let’s go back in time. The year is 2011, Trump is giving interviews as a potential candidate for the Presidency. While he is not sure if he will end up running or not that doesn’t stop him from going full attack on Obama. In one interview (1) he says about Obama’s background “I have people that actually have being studying it and they cannot believe what they are finding”. In another (2) with Sean Hannity he seems to know every detail when it comes to Obama’s connections with extremists such as Bill Ayers, Reverend Wright and a mobster named Tony Rezko. What is interesting about the events that transpire then is something that Trump said about Obama in his 2015 (3) speech at CPAC “Hillary Clinton wanted his birth certificate … John McCain fought really hard and really viciously to get his birth certificate … Trump comes along and I am not a sitting senator I am not a sitting anything else … he gave a birth certificate … Hillary Clinton wanted it, McCain wanted it and I wanted it. He didn’t do it for them, he did it for me (!) …” This wasn’t the first time Trump attempted to get the Presidency. According to some articles (4) he was mulling with a presidential run for 2004 and 2008 but both times decided against running. He did however came much closer to a presidential run in 2000 when he campaigned for the nomination of the Reform Party. It is important to note who is backing Trump this time. First, it’s his long time pen pal and star of the Reform Party, Jesse Ventura. To be exact, Ventura privately encouraged Trump to run but official told reporters that “… If he announces that he will be a candidate he will absolutely get my full consideration” as he put it. Second it’s his longtime aide Roger Stone who was hired as director of the exploratory committee. Again this wasn’t the first time Trump came close to running for President. For that we have to go back in 1987, where there are reports stating that Sumner Baye and Abe Hirschfeld launched a campaign to make Donald Trump the first multi-billionaire president of the United States. Also there is a political activist named Mike Dunbar who launched a “Draft Trump” campaign hoping that he will convince the billionaire to run. So, what year was he asked to run for President? If you look at the above timeline and consider the effort put to make Trump President it appears that this effort intensifies as we come close to 2016. The first attempt in 1987 appears uncoordinated by some secret benevolent force. It is just some guys who thought Trump had what it needed in order to become great President. Plus back then Trump completely backed George Bush for the Presidency (5) so he didn’t seem to have good info or inside knowledge. If you think maybe Bush wasn’t at the time the scam he turned out to be you will probably be wrong. Between 1977 and 1979, he was director of the Council on Foreign Relations, prior to that he was Director of the Central Intelligence (CIA) for about a year. The second attempt (2000) however is a whole different case. This time he does a lot more than attend a couple of rallies as he did in 1987. He forms a presidential exploratory committee, makes numerous media appearances as a candidate, travels to campaign events in Florida, California, Minnesota and even qualifies for two presidential primaries. What is really interesting about this potential presidential run is the timing. Donald Trump announced the creation of a presidential exploratory committee on October 7 1999 on Larry King’s show. JFK Jr. died July 16, 1999. Not even three full months after his death Trump is considering a presidential run. But how is this related to Trump’s decision? Trump and JFK Jr were friends (Trump said it in his interview with Larry King) (6). JFK Jr was considering a run for the New York Senate. Hillary Clinton was targeting the same seat. JFK Jr was the favorite to win the seat. The Clintons murdered JFK Jr (or so they thought) in order to massively increase Hillary’s chances of winning. My theory is that this is the event that convinced Trump to join the alliance and run for President. I am assuming that there is already an effort to get rid of the cabal since 1963. As Q put it “Rest in peace Mr. President (JFK), through your wisdom and strength, since your tragic death, Patriots have planned, installed, and by the grace of God, activated, the beam of LIGHT." Maybe that was The “Start” Q mentioned in post 1082. Important to note that even back then you can clearly see the MSM are doing their best to paint a negative picture of “The Donald” (7) as they called him. But remember who controls the media, it’s the CIA. Operation Mockingbird started in the early 1950s so by the 1999 they must have had complete control of the media. So when MSNBC is bitching about Trump back in 2000 who is really bitching about Trump. Yep, you guessed it, it’s the CIA. So either they knew there was an organized effort to take the Presidency or simply that Trump wasn’t one of them. Unfortunately at this point and time the alliance’s attempt to win the Presidency seems rushed and not well prepared. Take for example Trump’s picks/considerations for his cabinet. Oprah Winfrey for Vice President and Colin Powell for Secretary of State. I left the “best” for last. John McCain for Secretary of Defense. Wait what, no name for DOD?? (ṌṌꙬ@). Years pass by, Trump continues to run his empire and joins The Apprentice in an attempt to build his reputation (?). He mentions in a couple articles about a potential Presidential run for the 2004 and 2008 years but nothing happens. Until 2011. Then, he is literally everywhere, giving interview after interview, attacking Obama with very well research points, being more serious than ever to run. Everything looks ideal for them, he even leads some polls (according to him) but in the end decides not to run. What happened? Why didn’t he run for the 2012 election? Maybe the alliance wasn’t ready? To get a better picture you should also consider this. Members of the alliance are using the US military for their counter coup but remember the military is equipped to fight tanks, fighter jets and other armored vehicles, it is not equipped to fight the mainstream media and all other corrupt officials. It must have taken the white hats years in order to transform the military with new abilities (plus they would have needed to be extra careful in the beginning). So ask yourself these questions. Trump joined the apprentice in 2003, what if he didn’t join to make his name a bigger brand? What if this move was part of the plan? The show made him look powerful, in control and friendly to millions of Americans. Just listen to what Roger Stone said in an interview (8) “He is perfectly made up. He is perfectly coiffed. He is perfectly lit. He is in a high back chair making tough decisions. What is he look like? He looks like a President! …I understand the elite say that’s reality TV. Voters don’t see it that way”. Yet, there are evidence suggesting that the organized plan to make Trump President goes way before 1999 (which was my initial guess) with unknown forces supporting it and others opposing it. These evidence are not direct but suggest foreknowledge and negative preconditioning for the public. First, it’s the famous Illuminati card game published in 1982. In one of the later versions of the game, Illuminati New World Order Assassins (1995), a card was published with a potential great significance to our research. The card is titled “Enough is Enough”, is depicting a guy yelling and it writes “At any time, at any place, our snipers can drop you. Have a nice day.” What is particularly interesting about this card is the similarities with real life and the timeline that led to where we are now. To begin with the analysis the guy depicted in the card bears a strong resemblance to the 1995 Donald, furthermore the picture cleverly conceals the guy’s hair. All these years people though that this card predicted Trump’s Presidency but I don’t think it did. I have an alternative explanation, probably better. What if Trump is the one saying “Enough is Enough” (He has said it many times in his rallies (9), I even found it on his twitter 3 times one of which was on 9/11/2014! Even Q wrote the exact same phrase 3 times in posts 930, 1010 and 1494) and the bad guys are the ones saying the other part “At any time, at any place, our snipers can drop you. Have a nice day.” Maybe the card was published as warning for the good guys not to try anything. Maybe that was the reason the guys’ hair was concealed. Donald’s hair is unique, if it wasn’t concealed it would have been obvious to whom this card was addressed but that wasn’t necessary. The message could be sent and received without unrelated people finding out what is all about. It is worth mentioning that the game was published by a gaming company (Steve Jackson Games) who has a pyramid with an eye as its logo and had its offices raided by the Secret Service in 1990 for supposedly making a 'Hacking Guide'. Second, “Back to the Future Part II” screenwriter Bob Gale recently confirmed in an interview that Donald Trump was the inspiration for the character (Biff Tannen) he and director Robert Zemeckis created back in 1989. Long story short, future Biff steals time travel machine, goes back in time and gives his younger shelf a sports almanac with the outcomes of the games for the next 50 years. Biff uses this info, becomes a billionaire and a playboy, buys a casino and gets involved in many shady businesses. His ascent to power is accompanied with the burning of the local school, the rise of the police state, increase in poverty, prostitution and gang related crimes. Overall, the beautiful town of Hill Valley descends into anarchy. In the same movie that predicted the attacks on 9/11 Trump’s character is portrayed as someone that will endanger society’s future. In case you don’t know in Back to the future 1 Libyan nationalists attack Doctor Emmett Brown (Christopher Lloyd) in the Twin Pines Mall at 1:16 Α.Μ. (which is 9:11 if you turn it upside down), in Back to the Future 2 you can see two pines appearing in Marty McFly's (Michael Fox) tv which later turn into the twin towers as his mother keeps changing the channels. If you observe the whole scene from grandpa McFly’s point of view (he is hovering upside down from some medical device) you can clearly see that the towers appear to be falling. The same people that feel the need to reveal their plans before they end your life they are also “telling” you that Trump’s ascent to power can have severe consequences. Again, consider the timeline. The second movie is published in 1989. It would have been in production for at least one or two years. What year Trump attempted a run for the Presidency for the first time? 1987! I know I didn’t prove exactly when he was asked to run but I think I made it obvious that this underground war has been going on long before any of us knew anything about it. I am also wondering if bad actors were aware of an attempt to end their empire with Donald Trump destined to lead this effort then how did he manage to avoid assassination all these years? I will leave you with this, one of Trump’s tweets “…I went from VERY successful businessman, to top T.V. Star.....to President of the United States (on my first try). I think that would qualify as not smart, but genius....and a very stable genius at that!” Is he taunting anyone? “I knew this day would arrive, it is only a question of when…” Donald J Trump
40 Best Songs of All Times About Poker, Dice, Cards and Addiction
40. Go Down Gamblin’ - Blood Sweat and Tears
Released in 1971, Go Down Gamblin’ by Blood Sweat and Tears is a song describing a gambler who is “born a natural loser.” He never wins, no matter what game he plays, but, he doesn’t feel like a loser. As the song goes – “Cause I've been called a natural lover by that lady over there, Honey, I'm just a natural gambler but I try to do my share.”
39. Gambler - Madonna
Gambler is a song written and played by Madonna, made for the film Vision Quest. Although the song reached the top 10 in the charts of the UK, Australia, Belgium, Ireland, Netherlands, and Norway, Madonna performed it only once on her 1985The Virgin Tour. It’s a catchy song, we suggest you play it as you spin the reels of some of your favourite retro online slots.
38. The House of the Rising Sun - The Animals
Our list wouldn’t be complete without the 1964 hit song - The House of the Rising Sun by The Animals. Everybody knows the famous lines ”My mother, she was a tailor, sewed these new blue jeans, my father was a gamblin' man way down in New Orleans.” This single had a major success and made it to the top 10 songs on mainstream rock radio stations in the USA. Likewise, the hit was featured in the video game Guitar Hero Live.
37. The Winner Takes It All - ABBA
Whether we admit it or not, we all love at least some songs played by the very well-known Swedish pop group, ABBA. According to some sources, Bjorn Ulvaeus wrote the 1980 hit song The Winner Takes It All which was inspired by his divorce to his fellow band member, Agnetha Fältskog. The winner takes it all is a sort of a comparison to a divorce (especially the part ”I've played all my cards and that's what you've done too, nothing more to say, no more ace to play”), where one of them is the winner and the other one is left with nothing. And things are just the same when it comes to gambling, so we’ve decided to put the song on our list.
36. Shape of my Heart - Sting
We’re all aware of the fact that our gambling behaviour can be influenced by certain types of music and that's because online gambling and music go hand in hand. So, we suggest you start playing your preferred games with one of everyone’s favourite songs by Sting called The Shape of my Heart. It was released in 1993 and used for the end credits of the film Léon. In one of his interviews, Sting explained that the lyrics of the song tell the story of a card player who places bets not in order to win but to figure out something that’s been bothering him - “some kind of scientific, almost religious law.”
35. All I Wanna Do Is Play Cards - Corb Lund
“Well, I guess I really oughta be makin up songs but all I wanna do is play cards. I know it's dumb and sick and wrong but all I wanna do is play cards. Got the studio booked in Tennessee, and my record producer's callin me, the tape will roll in just three weeks and all I wanna do is play cards.” Does it sound familiar? It’s a 2005 hit by Corb Lund called All I Wanna Do Is Play Cards, once you hear it you’ll be playing it on repeat.
34. Gambling Man - The Overtones
When you’re falling in love, it’s perfectly normal to feel like you want to gamble everything just to attract that person’s attention to notice you and love you back. Well, Gambling Man is a lively 2010 song that tells a story of a guy fascinated with his love, so he places all his bets on her, as the song goes - “I played my hand, I rolled the dice, now I'm paying for my sins, I got some bad addiction.” This time, he feels that this love affair is different from any other – “Baby, it's you, yeah, yeah, that's right.” The song was released in 2010 and has been popular ever since.
33. Poker Face - Lady Gaga
Although the Poker Face song is more about the game of romance rather than the game of poker, the catchy refrain that starts with “Can't read my, no he can't read my poker face” kinda reminds us of winning at the tables, so we couldn’t skip it this time. Released in 2008, the song achieved worldwide success, topping the charts in the USA, the UK, Australia, Canada and several European countries.
32. Little Queen of Spades - Robert Johnson
Moving on to the Little Queen of Spades, a song title by the American blues musician Robert Johnson who recorded the song in 1937 and first released it in 1938. The first version of this gambling-themed song has a playing time of 2:11, whereas the second one lasts 4s longer (2:15), and is considered an alternate take and first appeared on Johnson's album The Complete Recordings, in 1990.
31. Train of Consequences - Megadeth
Another great song Train of Consequences is the title created by Megadeth, released as the first single from their sixth studio album Youthanasia in 1994. The song was later included on their compilation albums and its music video was the 26th most played video on MTV. There’s this part of the song “No horse ever ran as fast as the money that you bet, I'm blowing on my cards and I play them to my chest” – which is about a person’s gambling problem, who realises something’s wrong with this lifestyle, but it still hunts him down. Could be just the thrill, but he just can’t stop playing.
30. Gambler - Whitesnake
Released on the album Slide It In (1984) and appearing on the compilation album Gold (2006), Gambler is the song by the British hard rock band Whitesnake. These words may sound familiar - “No fame or fortune, no luck of the draw, when I dance with the Queen of Hearts, a jack of all trades, a loser in love, it's tearing my soul apart”. And in case you’ve never heard it, we think you should give it a shot, the chances are you’re going to love it!
29. Gambling Man - Woody Guthrie
Now here’s one single from 1957 - Gamblin' Man. The song was taped live at the London Palladium and published as a double A side, with Puttin' On the Style. Reaching #1 in the UK Singles Chart in the summer 1957, it was “the last UK number 1 to be released on 78 rpm format only, as 7' vinyl had become the norm by this time.” Written by Woody Guthrie and Donegan, this gambling themed song was produced by Alan Freeman and Michael Barclay.
28. Roll of the Dice - Bruce Springsteen
According to Songfacts, Roll of the Dice was the first Springsteen’s song he didn’t write by himself. In fact, E Street Band’s pianist Roy Bittan helped with the music, while Springsteen was in charge of the lyrics, starting with – “Well I've been a losin' gambler, just throwin' snake eyes, Love ain't got me downhearted. I know up around the corner lies, My fool's paradise in just another roll of the dice.” After he broke up the E Street Band in October 1989, Springsteen wrote lyrics for the Roll of the Dice (with two other songs) and liked them to the point where he began writing and recording more songs.
27. Queen of Diamonds - Tom Odell
Here’s one song about a gambling fanatic who’s trying to satisfy his own addiction but also someone else, hoping it’s going to save him. Released in 2018, Queen of Diamonds is Tom Odell’s song from the album Jubilee Road, based on the local characters that inspired this British songwriter to include the whisky-soaked gamblers who regularly visited one betting shop.
26. The Angel and the Gambler - Iron Maiden
Now, this song may divide Iron Maiden fans and it’s most probably because of its repetitive lyrics that can be a bit annoying. The release we’re talking about is The Angel and the Gambler. Truth be told, the melody in general is very catchy and, even a bit similar to The Who in some moments. As the song was released in 1998 while Blaze Bayley was its frontmen, it’s missing the well-known high-pitch vocals from Bruce Dickinson.
25. Ramblin' Gamblin Man - Bob Seger
We’re moving on to a rock single from 1978 - Ramblin' Gamblin Man by Bob Seger. The author meets an old acquaintance, a professional gambler who happens to be a swagger. As such, he attracts people’s attention whenever he bets. Putting so much of his faith in the cards (rather than in people), he walks away every time, just before avoiding loss. Along the way, the narrator realises that, if you scratch beneath the surface, you’ll find he’s a very cynical man, who will never change. Another gambling-themed song worth mentioning by Bob Seger is Still The Same.
24. Blow Up The Pokies - The Whitlams
Blow up the Pokies is the next song on our list, played by The Whitlams. It is the second single by the group from their 4th studio album, Love This City. Released in the year 2000, the song became a hit and made it to number 21 on the ARIA Singles Chart. According to several resources, the lyrics written by singer Tim Freedman were inspired by the destruction he saw in original Whitlams bassist Andy Lewis's life, due to his gambling addiction.
23. A Good Run of Bad Luck - Clint Black
Now here’s one 1994-song packed with gambling-related terms. As you listen to A Good Run of Bad Luck, recorded by American music artist Clint Black, you'll have a bit of fun as you try identifying what all these gambling terms mean. The song is a bit fast and is about falling in love by using gambling metaphors. The main character is willing to spend a lot of money to win his special lady over and, although he has had a period of bad luck, he is not giving up – “I've been to the table, and I've lost it all before, I'm willin' and able, always comin' back for more.”
22. When You’re Hot, You’re Hot - Jerry Reed
Jerry Reed won a Grammy for the song When You’re Hot, You’re Hot which was released in 1971. Most people remember it as it was a major hit, ranked as number 1 in the country charts, also making its way up the Pop Top 40. It’s an enjoyable novelty song about the ups and downs of the gambling life, about one’s winning streak caught in an illegal game of Crap. Country star Jerry Reed also came up with a version The Uptown Poker Club in 1973.
21. Lawyers, Guns and Money - Warren Zevon
Next one up - Lawyers, Guns and Money is a song by Warren Zevon, the closing track on his album Excitable Boy, released in 1978. An edited version of this song was distributed as a single and found itself on the A Quiet Normal Life best of compilation on the CD and LP. The song goes like this - “I went home with a waitress the way I always do, how was I to know she was with the russians, too? I was gambling in Havana, I took a little risk Send lawyers, guns, and money Dad, get me out of this, hiyah!”
20. The Lottery Song - Harry Nilsson
According to the man in the 1972 pop-rock song The Lottery Song by Harry Nilsson, there's more than one way to get to Vegas. Addressing his lover, the narrator mentions a few different options for buying a ticket and going to Sin City – “We could win the lottery we could go to Vegas,” and “We could wait till summer, we could save our money” as well as “We could make a record, sell a lot of copies, we could play Las Vegas.”
19. Casino Queen - Wilco
Now here’s one black-humoured gambling-themed song, released in 1995 and titled after a casino. Featuring a dirty electric guitar, Casino Queen was composed by an American songwriter, Jeff Tweedy, who wrote this song after playing a game in a riverboat casino accompanied by his dad. Inspired by the event, the author wrote: “Casino Queen my lord you're mean, I've been gambling like a fiend on your tables so green.”
18. Have a Lucky Day - Morphine
Another song on our list that you simply must check out starts like this: “I feel lucky, I just feel that way, I'm on a bus to Atlantic City later on today. Now I'm sitting at a blackjack table and swear to God the dealer has a tag says, "Mabel." Hit me, hit me! I smile at Mabel, soon they're bringing complimentary drinks to the table.” Check it out yourself - it’s called Have a Lucky Day by Morphine.
17. Kentucky Gambler - Merle Haggard
Written by Dolly Parton and released in 1974, Merle Haggard’s Kentucky Gambler is another song on our ultimate gambling playlist that you should pay attention to. It’s about a miner from Kentucky who leaves his family to gamble, under the bright lights of Reno. Unsurprisingly, his winning streak comes to an end, and he loses all his winnings. All broke, he decided to return back home only when he arrived, he found out his wife was involved with someone else.
16. The Jack - AC/DC
The next song on our list will give you some adrenaline boost, for sure. It goes like this - “She gave me the queen, she gave me the king, she was wheelin' and dealin', just doin' her thing, she was holdin' a pair, but I had to try…” Sounds familiar? This song from the 1975s is called The Jack and is played by AC/DC and there’s no way you can skip it.
15. Blackjack - Ray Charles
Moving on to something a bit different - a melody that blackjack lovers can listen to as they play is Ray Charles’ Blackjack. Apart from being a good quality song from 1955, it carries an important message with an emphasis on how brutal the game of blackjack can be. Some sources say that Ray Charles wrote it after beating T-Bone Walker at a blackjack game session. Yet another Ray Charles’ famous song about gambling is called a Losing Hand.
14. Ooh Las Vegas - Gram Parson
“Ooh, Las Vegas, ain't no place for a poor boy like me”... is a song-into for Ooh Las Vegas which was written by Gram Parsons and Ric Grech. It was first released by Gram Parsons with Emmylou Harris in 1974. Playing this song would be perfect for the beginning of the road trip (i.e. to Las Vegas), especially if you have the energy to sing along.
13. The Stranger - Leonard Cohen
Published in 1968 and performed by Leonard Cohen, The Stranger appears in the The Ernie Game movie about a man released from a mental asylum. More appropriately, it is the perfect opening song in the 1971 Western McCabe & Mrs Miller, in which Warren Beatty plays a gambler. As you listen to this song (without watching the movie), it makes you see fascinating images of card games, smoky dreams, and concepts of risk versus safety.
12. Desperado - Eagles
Written by Glen Frey and Don Henley, Desperado song is one of The Eagles’ greatest hits from their 1973 album of the same name. The song features a classic tune while the ballad tells the story of a lone wolf imprisoned by his loneliness. As for the lyrics, they have loads of card references mentioning the queen of diamonds, the queen of hearts, and so on.
11. Huck's Tune - Bob Dylan
The next song on our list is about the risks of poker, money, and relationships, which are precisely what the movie Lucky You is all about. Does it ring a bell? That’s right, this 2007 song is called Huck’s Tune and is performed by Bob Dylan. Each of us can all relate to lines "You push it all in, and you've no chance to win, you play 'em on down to the end." Play the song and you’ll enjoy more than 4 amazing minutes of Bob Dylan. Likewise, Bob Dylan recorded Rambling, Gambling Willie and Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts, both excellent and both inspired by gambling.
10. Four Little Diamonds - Electric Light Orchestra
A song by the British rock band Electric Light Orchestra Four Little Diamonds was released in 1983 and found itself on the album Secret Messages. The single wasn’t so popular in the US, being only 2 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, at number 86, and number 84 in the UK. This song refers to the singer’s cheating lover who tricked him out of a ring which had 'four little diamonds' on it.
9. You Can't Beat The House - Mark Knopfler
Moving on to our next choice for the day, You Can’t Beat the House. It’s the third song on the Get Lucky studio album released in 2009 by British singer-songwriter and guitarist Mark Knopfler. The album and the songs received favorable reviews with the album reaching the top three positions on album charts in Denmark, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, and Poland. The singer’s divine voice combined with beautiful music and lyrics goes like this – “You can't bear the house, you can't bear the house, tell the man somebody, you can't beat the house.”
8. Deck of Cards - Don Williams
Deck of Cards is a recitation song that tells the story of a soldier who gets caught while playing cards in church and then faces a sentence from a superior officer. The soldier defends his case, explaining he wasn't about to deal a hand of poker, but was rather confirming his faith with the cards. Performed by T. Texas Tyler, the song managed to become a major hit in the 1940s and 1950s. Also, Wink Martindale had an even bigger hit with his 1959 cover, with a successful version by Don Williams featuring Tex Ritter and Buddy Cole.
7. Gambler’s Blues - B.B. King
First recording of the song Gambler’s Blues by B.B. King was in 1966, and it was released in 1967. The song appears on the album Back in the Alley (1970). Some say gambling and blues go hand in hand, so if you (gambling fans) haven’t heard it, listen and see for yourself.
6. Tumbling Dice - Rolling Stones
One of our favourite songs on the list is Tumbling Dice, written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. It tells the story of a gambler who can’t remain faithful to any woman. Being released in the 1970s and featuring a blues boogie-woogie rhythm, the song was and still is one of the greatest singles of all time. Rolling Stones also recorded Casino Boogie, and it’s from their 1972 album, Exile on Main St.
5. Luck Be A Lady - Frank Sinatra
The next song on our list is about a gambler who hopes that he will win a bet, the outcome of which will decide whether he is able to save his relationship with the girl of his dreams. You probably know what song we’re talking about; it’s called Luck be a Lady released in 1965 and performed by one of the most popular musical artists - Frank Sinatra.
4. Deal - Grateful Dead
Next one up is the song Deal. It was first performed by the Grateful Dead in 1971, as a regular part of the repertoire through their 1970's tour. Although being less common to the fans during the 1990s, the band continued to perform it. The singer opens with the message: “Since it cost a lot to win and even more to lose you and me bound to spend some time wondering what to choose,” that later kicks off with a chorus: “Don't let your deal go down...” Loser is another song first performed by the Grateful Dead in 1971 as well, heavily played during 1971 and 1972.
3. Ace of Spades - Motörhead
Ok, the next song is loaded with some great gambling verses like "The pleasure is to play, makes no difference what you say, I don't share your greed, the only card I need is the Ace of Spades" will definitely set you in the right mood for hitting some winning combinations. Released in 1980, the song was inspired by slot machines that the lead singer Ian Fraser “Lemmy” Kilmister played in London pubs.
2. Viva Las Vegas - Elvis
As soon as you start playing the second song from our playlist “Viva Las Vegas,” you’ll probably picture a huge casino and a great gaming atmosphere. Performed by the legendary Elvis Presley, the 1964-released song brings the glamour of the city, and its beat will get you in the mood for some serious gameplay. This song was written for the movie of the same name starring Elvis Presley, in which he plays a race car driver waiting tables at a hotel to pay off a debt. There’s this famous scene when he performs this song at the talent competition alongside many showgirls.
1. The Gambler - Kenny Rogers
Performed by the legendary country singer Kenny Rogers, The Gambler song is our number 1 - it's full of some betting advice that are relevant today, even though it was released more than 40 years ago, in 1978. Here’s how it goes… “If you're gonna play the game, boy you gotta learn to play it right, you've got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em, know when to walk away, and know when to run.” These classic chorus lines were told from the first-person perspective inspired by a conversation the author had with an experienced poker player on a train. Written in the form of poker metaphors, Schlitz wrote the tune in honor of his late father. Johnny Cash is also among other musicians who recorded The Gambler in 1978, on Gone Girl.
What's the history of your Hobby ? How did your biggest Hobby become your Hobby ?
As in : What was your moment when you noticed "Hey, this could really be awesome as a full-fledged hobby, this is something that I can have a lasting interest in ? My main Hobbys are primary Movies, Film & Cinema, as well as Manga & Anime. Fair Disclaimer : This is going to be way to long, I don't really expect anyone to read through all of it. More than anything I wrote that for myself, I just felt an itch that I needed to type that all out for once. For me it was when I first watched Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) and Die Hard (1988). I had watched them both within the same week for the first time. But before I can talk about that, I have to go back a little further. Up to this point I had only watched Disney Cartoons (Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy), Disney Movies (pretty much ALL the animated Disney classics + some Pixar, I guess). Parallel to watching a lot of Disney stuff, I also read many many Disney Comics starring Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy, Pluto and Many More (Here in Germany Disney Comics are pretty famous and well known). And I watched A LOT of Anime (Shonen). And I mean a lot. My biggest Anime fandoms where no doubt Pokemon, Digimon, Dragon Ball, One Piece, Yu-Gi-Oh, Detective Conan and Inu Yasha. Of all these Animes, I had also read the Mangas. Later on, when I started to read more manga (including reading rough scanlations online) and watching anime subbed online, I got into Naruto, Shaman King, Hunter X Hunter, Bleach and Death Note. AND - what's important - even before I watched real movies I was pretty damn big on CLAMP X/1999, Cowboy Bebop, Hellsing, Gantz, Trigun and a couple more I don't recall (Speed Grapher, Trinity Blood ?) ... So more mature stuff was not unheard of to teenage me. I also was a huge Nintendo Fan : Super Mario, Yoshi, Donkey Kong, Mario Kart, The Legend of Zelda, Metroid, Star Fox, Pokemon, Kirby, F-Zero, Super Smash Bros. - you name it, but this is a whole different story altogether. I only ever owned Nintendo videogame hardware though and I exclusively played major Nintendo IP's. Never had a PlayStation, never wanted one. Yeah, I guess you can say I had picked my side. Anyway, back to films : The only live action films I had watched up to that point were superhero comicbook adaptations (DC Comics & Marvel Comics). I still watch those to this day, and I like them well enough, but I always knew and always felt that thes were just adaptations of a much bigger comic-universe and that there was verd little intrinsicly cinematic about then. Of course, with the advent of the Jaggernaut that is the MCU that has changed to a certain degree. It's kinda hard to say why I was so wild for the Donner / Reeves Superman films, the Burton / Keaton Batman films, and yes, also the Schoemaker films (I know, I know ...) or the Raimi / Maguire Spider-Man films ... I don't exactly know why. Funnily enough I never really got into the DC Comics and Marvel Comics, which are the source material to these films. And neither did I ever really get into their cartoon adaptations. I am not sure why, wrong place, wrong time I guess. Plus I was effectively preoccupied with Anime. Anyway, I suppose I was daunted by the sheer amount of material. I was always a kid who liked order and oversight in and over his collection and hobby. I didn't understand the publication history, multiple concurrently running series featuring the same hero, story arcs being spread out over up to 4 or 5 series, crossover events with other heroes, never knowing which crossovers are actually important. Add to that the fact that each issue in germany combined like 2 or 3 us-american issues, sometimes combining issues of different series into one german issue running under the brand of the main hero it featured, which made it all even more confusing. I tried to get into american superhero comics multiple times, bought quite a few issues and even read a couple of stories I really liked. But it just never clicked. Then there are of course collected editions if story arcs or certains character runs by singular authors and artists (called graphic novels), but then there are also One-Off Standalone / Spin-Off / Elseworld stories and graphic novels. And last but not least, there are these company wide major mega crossover events that tend to reset large chunks of the universes and characters continuity. Supposedly in order to create new entry points for new readers, but I don't know ... To me, that made it even more confusing. Besides, I like to get a full story of a character I like. I don't want to be told basically "yeah, you know kid, basically 80% of what we have published until now doesen't count anymore lol". With manga you have a clear beginning, one series, weekly or monthly chapters, collected volumes (tankobons) and once it's finished a clear ending. Sure it can be long as hell (in the case of One Piece over 90 volumes already), but at least when you read or watch it all you have a complete story. I guess I just always preferred that. Maybe that's why I liked the early Comicbook film adaptations of DC Comics and Marvel Comics : As a way of simplification. Now, there was a time when I only watched DC and Marvel adaptions out of principle, even though even back then I already knew that some of them where pretty fucking bad. I had a weird obsession with Batman Returns though, which I still have to this day. Probably has something to do with the fact that I was like 10 when I first watched it and really, really liked Michelle Pfeiffers Catwoman, if you know what I mean. But then my interest in - for lack of a better term - "real" Films started to rear it's head. Films that where originally cinematic. I had a phase where I was pretty obsessed with the Die Hard and Indiana Jones movies. They proved to be pretty damn good gateway blockbusters. Indiana Jones functioned as a gateway to Star Wars and that whole universe George Lucas had created. By the way : Yes, I watched Indiana Jones before Star Wars. The Indiana Jones films also served as a gateway to ALL the other Steven Spielberg films (the serious ones as well). I was shocked how many movies I had heard of but never cared for were actually Spielberg movies. The unbelievable range from "Jaws" to "Schindlers List" or from "E.T. theExtra-Terrestrial" to "Amistad" or "Minority Report" first made me realize how important the DIRECTOR is. After that I had a phase where I wanted to be cool and prove to myself I am hardcore enough to watch A LOT of Horror. My idea of Horror though, back then at least, was limited to 90% slasher. So I obsessed over Halloween, Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street, Scream, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Hills Have Eyes and pretty much all of Romeros Living Dead (Zombie) films. It was arround that time that first torture porn wave swept over the Horror landscape and I was pretty proud of myself watching Saw and Hostel and talking about them at school, even though I remember HATING them. During the same time there was the Fantasy craze of the 00's and I got pretty involved with the Harry Potter and the The Lord of the Rings movies as well, but that always remained a secondary interest. I never read any of the books of either series, I have admit to ny great shame. It just wasen't the right time for me to read young fantasy or high fantasy novels. Even though I did like to read as a child and youngster. But when Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings were all the rage I just was preoccupied with different interests, so it kinda fell through the cracks. I do however remember that I liked those films of Harry Potter that I had seen and most certainly all of the The Lord of the Rings films a great deal. Anyway, after the Spielberg well ran dry I took advice from my friend who was a couple of years older than me. He was like you like Die Hard, well good for you since there's a whole world of 80s balls to the walls action flicks out there. Thusly, the door to Schwarznegger and James Cameron opened. I probably don't have to tell you that The Terminator movies where my highlight (as well as Predator, which I was pleasantly surprised to learn had the same director as the first Die Hard). After I had seen Aliens, which I loved, I was shocked to find out it was a sequel. So I went back to the first. And so I discovered Ridley Scott. Funnily enough by means of arguably his worst film Alien 3 I learned about David Fincher, who remains one of my favourite director to this day. David Finchers two best works, by the way, are Zodiac and The Social Network, and not - albeit great - Seven and Fight Club, as many would have you believe. That is a fact and nobody will ever convince me otherwise. Ridley Scott led to me discovering Blade Runner (the Final Cut on my first watch, thankfully) which, for some time, I was convinced was the final word in cinematic quality. I also developed an almost unhealthy obsession with the hard-boiled Michael Douglas starrer Black Rain. I guess it spoke to me because it was set in Japan and I was such a big anime fan. Parallel to all this, roughly arround the time I started watching Cameron flicks, I also got balls deep into Quentin Tarantino. I remember I felt so smart and accomplished for having "discovered" Tarantino, I felt like a connoisseur of fine wine haha. What did I know he was mainstream. Well he wasn't for ME at the time. Needless to say, I loved all his films, even the slower paced Jackie Brown. Didn't like Death Proof so much, which was his newest release at the time. Naturally Tarantino led me to Robert Rodriguez, whose films I NEVER liked. Not even the ones generally considered good (From Dusk till Dawn, Sin City). For me he always felt like a pretentious poor mans Tarantino. Anyway, Quentin Tarantinos films taught me, for the very first time just how important a screenwriter and a good screenplay are. After discovering hard SciFi with Ridley Scott and Christopher Nolan's The Prestige (who of course was on my radar because of Batman Begins and nothing else lol), I finally felt smart enough to tackle Stanley Kubrick who, as I had heard and read on multiple occasions, was supposed to be the best director of all time, or at least one of the very best. So I bought a BluRay set containing all of his films from Lolita all the way to Eyes Wide Shut. And while I am sure HE IS one of the best directors of all time ... for me ... NOPE. His aesthetics, his way of telling a story , everything ... simply not for me. Stanley Kubrick's kino and I would not become friends. Not gonna lie, that made me a little sad back in 2008 / 2009 I think, because I really wanted to like his work. I felt like I was supposed to. But then I caught - totally by chance - Martin Scorseses Casino (1995) by aimlessly flipping through TV channels at night. It was the last 20 minutes of all things. I think I didn't skip to the next channel because I thought the verbal house fight between DeNiro and Sharon Stone was hilarious (Note : The only thing I knew Robert DeNiro from at this time was Jackie Brown). Anyway, then came the montage of the whacking with House of the Rising Sun which culminated in the now infamous cornfield murder. It was so raw and brutal. There was no music. There was no style or choreography to the beating. It wasn't "cool". There was no heroic escape nor was there a daring hero swooping in to save the day (note that at this point I didn't know that the Joe Persci character was a despicable gangster in his own right). All of it ... it just felt like I was watching a real mafia killing. And I ... WAS ... HOOKED. I rented Casino the next day and watched the whole thing. Talked about it with the guy from the video store. So he gave my GoodFellas. Mean Streets. The Departed. Raging Bull. The Aviator. Taxi Driver. The King of Comedy. After Hours. Scorsese Scorsese Scorsese. Now I gotta say I was never big on the crime genre, neither in movies nor television. So I probably would have never actively looked out for this movie. But I found it. And that's that. While Spielberg made me love movies as a medium, Scorsese and DeNiro made me love the craft of actually directing a movie and the art of acting. DeNiros filmography led me to the films of Francis Ford Coppola and Sergio Leone. And with these movies I realised why I didn't like Kubrick. While Kubrick was cold and sterile, albeit highly intelligent, Coppolas and Leones movies where more character driven, driven by plot, story and acting performances ... and in general simply "warmer", if that makes any sense. They just felt like their was more blood and life and passion to them, compared to all of Kubricks work. I first got into The Godfather movies and The Dollars trilogy of course, but over time I came to appreciate, in some cases even love, the smaller, quirkier, more unknown movies of these directiors like The Conversation (a film that taught me the value and importance of sound-mixing), Rumble Fish (my first glance into surrealism / expressionism) or Duck, You Sucker ! which was the first movie that I watched that got a message through to me about genuine class struggle and the futility of revolutions though history. Apocalypse Now made me realize and think about for the first time in my life what philosophy is all about. Once Upon a Time in the West made me understand why people like the opera. Something I never understood prior to watching this movie. When I was watching Once Upon a Time in the West for the third or fourth time it finally struck me, that, by all means, I was watching (and enjoying !) what was essentially an opera on film. And finally, Once Upon a Time in America, which I first saw at the age of 24 or 25, for the first time in my life made me think about topics such as true lasting friendships, the passing of time, missed opportunities, my own inevitable mortality, one-sided love and bitter regrets. And so films, my primary hobby as of today, HAVE definitely had a big influence on how I look at the world, who I am and how I think about certain things. And for that, I will be forever grateful.
Going through old issues of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter and posting highlights in my own words. For anyone interested, I highly recommend signing up for the actual site at f4wonline and checking out the full archives. PREVIOUS YEARS ARCHIVE: 1991 • 1992 • 1993 • 1994 • 1995 • 1996 • 1997 • 1998 • 1999 • 2000
With the defeat of the Alliance at Survivor Series (more on that in a bit), the WWF basically reset the whole promotion and also brought back Ric Flair and Jerry Lawler, all of which led to the first positive ratings boost Raw has had in quite awhile. The Invasion angle, after being arguably the biggest flop of an angle in wrestling history, came to an end where WWF won in a confusing mess of a main event. With the exception of the one successful Invasion PPV, all the potential money in doing a WWF vs. WCW feud was completely squandered due to an incredible string of dumb booking and bad business decisions. But that's allegedly in the past now and Raw this week felt like one of those old WCW/Vince Russo company reboots, with the old storylines being dropped and everything starting fresh. Dave hopes this goes better than the 3 times Russo tried to reset WCW.
So anyway, let's start with Ric Flair. He had verbally agreed to a deal with WWF on the night of Survivor Series to accept a buyout from WWF on the remainder of his Time Warner contract. The deal wasn't officially signed until about 3 hours before the Raw where he debuted, at which point Flair officially signed with WWF and Time Warner released him from his remaining WCW deal. It was a photo finish because WWF didn't know if Flair would get the release in time and they didn't really have a backup plan if he didn't. With WCW no longer in business and no more WCW office staff, the Time Warner people are left handling all the old WCW contracts and because of that, things were moving more slowly than normal. As seen on Raw, the plan is for Flair to play an adversary to Vince McMahon, with each of them owning 50% of WWF, which will ultimately lead to the long-talked about brand split, with Vince in charge of one side and Flair the other since they can't get along as co-owners. Flair has had on-and-off again talks with WWF ever since WCW folded back in March but the hold up was always Flair not wanting to walk away from his WCW contract, which guaranteed him big money until Feb. of 2003. In recent weeks, the XWF had also spoken with Flair about buying out his contract so there was some pressure there and ultimately, WWF apparently made a good enough offer for Flair to accept it. He will turn 54 years old in a few months and signed a 3-year contract. He's expected to work some matches, but only on big shows and his first match won't be for a few more months because he wants to get back in the shape he wants to be in, since he hasn't really wrestled in a long time. Flair's return, in Charlotte NC no less, got the huge pop you would expect and Flair later told Dave it was one of the top 3 or 4 biggest highlights of his career.
Then there's Jerry Lawler, who had actually agreed to a deal with XWF and even worked their television taping last week. When the decision was made to blow off the Invasion angle, it meant Paul Heyman would be taken off television. They would need a new announcer for Raw and the natural choice was Lawler. He has been close to coming back several times over the last few months, but there was always opposition within the company from some people due to the way Lawler kinda nuked his bridges behind him when he left. If you don't recall, Lawler was extremely vocal with his displeasure over how WWF fired his now ex-wife Stacy Carter and the heat got so bad that WWF pulled their developmental deal away from Power Pro Wrestling in Memphis because of their Lawler connections. After Stacy Carter left Lawler (for former WWF developmental wrestler Mike Howell), he began mending fences with the company. They actually asked Lawler to come in a couple of weeks ago, but by that point, he had already agreed to do the first round of XWF tapings as well as appear on WWA's tour of England. Lawler actually signed a contract with XWF which has a non-compete, but his longtime friend Jimmy Hart asked Lawler to work the tapings and then if he still wanted to go to WWF, they wouldn't try to stand in his way. Lawler said the decision wasn't easy because he had committed to XWF and enjoyed working for them, but he also recognized that at this stage in his life, he needed to accept the job that was most stable for his future and XWF is anything but a sure bet. Much like Flair, there was some last-second contract wrangling and he didn't actually sign his new 3-year WWF contract until just before Raw went on the air. He's making roughly the same $250,000 per year he was making before he quit the company last time. Lawler went out on the air having not seen Survivor Series or really without having watched much WWF television at all this year and had zero knowledge of any of the current storylines so that was mostly left to Jim Ross to get over for most of the show while Lawler cracked jokes. Lawler's new deal still allows him to take independent bookings and coincidentally enough, Lawler will still be working with Jimmy Hart to promote local shows in Memphis, which will act as something of a developmental territory for XWF.
Raw also saw the departure of Mick Foley. As noted in the past, Foley hasn't been happy with the direction of the company for awhile and a couple of weeks ago on Raw, he cut a promo alluding to all his issues with how the company has been dropping the ball, which was more shoot than scripted. Even though Foley seemingly left the company in kayfabe 2 weeks ago, Vince legitimately wanted to give Foley a real proper send-off, since he's literally never had the chance to do that with any of his top stars (most top guys who leave the WWF usually do so on bad terms behind the scenes). So they had a pre-taped segment on Vince's private jet, with Foley and Vince talking about everything Foley has given to the business and then when the plane landed and Foley walked off, in a sitcom-like goodbye, Vince smiled and said, "Have a nice day." Dave feels like it was a pretty clumsy goodbye and paled in comparison to how, say, NJPW for instance treats its retiring legends. But better than nothing, he supposes. It was long expected that after Foley retired from in-ring competition that he would stay with the company in an ambassador role, but turns out that is still pretty restricting. Foley wanted more control over his ability to do non-wrestling projects and the WWF contract meant they largely owned and controlled whatever he wanted to do. So Foley is off to go do....whatever he wants now. Dave says he can write more books, but without the WWF machine to help promote them, it's going to be a tougher hill to climb.
During the WWF quarterly investor call, Linda McMahon surprisingly made very few excuses for WWF's current business struggles and basically admitted that they just haven't been producing good television. Dave runs down all of WWF's business declines over the recent quarter, the company projections for the first quarter of 2002, profit and revenue numbers, comparing quarters from this year to last year, merchandising and licensing, and all that fun business/stock shit. If numbers are your thing, this story is for you. One interesting thing to note is that, due to the decline in PPV buys and the increase in TV rights fees, that means that television is now the top priority and the company's leading source of revenue (it remains that way to this day). Because of that, WWF has to be careful not to alienate sponsors anymore, which is why things aren't nearly as risque now as they were in, say, 1999. Because TV is now the top priority and they can't afford to take too many risks. During the call, Linda first talked about the business being cyclical and made some other excuses for low attendance (9/11), the failing WWF Times Square restaurant (9/11) and things like that. The usual excuses. But then she admitted that the WCW Invasion angle had been a failure and blamed that for much of the company's recent issues. Which, well...yeah. However, when talking about why the angle failed, she first blamed it on a skill level difference in the performers (basically saying that the WCW wrestlers weren't as good as WWF stars) and poor audience response to the WCW stars (specifically the night of the infamous Buff Bagwell/Booker T match on Raw). She also blamed "creative confusion" behind the scenes (in other words, the fact that plans were changing on a daily basis, which is something that falls squarely on her husband). Linda used a football analogy explaining why they dropped the angle, basically saying it failed and they had to back up and punt. With the exception of RVD and Stacy Keibler, all the other members of the WCW/ECW group have been temporarily written off television. Many of them are understandably nervous about their futures. Some will be fine but Dave thinks some are right to be worried. Aside from Booker T, almost none of them would be that terribly missed if they were released. But with the plan still being to do a brand split and running 2 touring groups simultaneously, they are going to need a lot of wrestlers. Most of them are still working house shows, despite being "fired" on TV after the Survivor Series loss.
Oh yeah...Survivor Series is in the books. It was pretty much a one-match show with the WWF vs. The Alliance main event being the only reason anyone cared and the storyline is that everyone's jobs were on the line. For the undercard Alliance wrestlers, many of them really did feel that way. With all the big stars in one match, the rest of the show wasn't great. But the main event delivered and then some. Edge beat Test to unify the Intercontinental and U.S. titles, thus ending the history of the U.S. title, which was dropped. Dave talks briefly about the history of that title (it comes back about 2 years later). The Dudleyz beat the Hardyz to unify the WWF and WCW tag titles, which is also the end of those belts and their history dating back to 1975. Matt Hardy was legit injured in the match when his face slammed into the cage and nearly knocked out his front teeth and he ended up needing a brace put in to keep his teeth in place at the dentist the next day. There's also a chance he suffered nerve damage from a deep cut to the gums. Trish Stratus won the WWF women's title that has been vacant ever since Chyna left the company months ago. Chyna was never acknowledged on commentary and it was never really explained why the title was vacant. Former ECW women's wrestler Jazz debuted in the match and Heyman put her over huge on commentary. And the main event was a 4.5 star show-stealer that was wild, out of control, and just crazy enough to be riveting. Now, 10 months after ECW really died and 8 months after WCW really died, their names were "officially taken off life support and allowed to die with no dignity after a branding manslaughter," as Dave so eloquently puts it. And with that, WCW and ECW are finally, truly dead.
Speaking of truly dead, the XWF television tapings are complete and it's uncertain what their future is. They filmed 10 episodes of TV and the situation with Hogan is still confusing. After initially pulling out of the XWF, Hogan showed up as a surprise and wrestled Curt Hennig at the tapings, which was Hogan's first match in over a year (since he left WCW). The match was said to be about what you'd expect from those 2 at this stage in their career wrestling in front of a few hundred fans in a free theme park studio. Hennig was managed by Bobby Heenan, who even took a bump for the first time in years. Hogan did a promo after saying he's planning to win the XWF title but it's unknown if any of this will ever air even if they do get a TV deal. Hogan reportedly did the match as a favor to longtime friend Jimmy Hart, who is hoping to use the Hogan footage to dangle in front of TV execs to secure a TV deal. Hogan is said to be torn because he wants to be back in the spotlight and wrestling again, but he also doesn't want to be associated with another failure and XWF is by no means a sure thing. XWF is planning to film more TV shows in January and are claiming they want to run a full 145-date house show schedule in 2002. Attempting to do that without viable TV is suicide though. They're also hoping to get guys like Sting, Scott Hall, and Kevin Nash when they're available, but that's not a sure bet either. They're also filming segments with celebrities like Gene Simmons, Alice Cooper, and Willie Nelson who will appear on the show. So that's basically where we're at with XWF (amazingly, I can't find footage of this Hogan/Hennig match anywhere. Looks like it may have never aired).
Martha Hart threatened a lawsuit this week against Diana Hart over Diana's new book "Under The Mat." Martha's lawyers demanded a public retraction, apology, and for the book to be removed from print and taken off bookstore shelves no later than Nov. 28th or else a lawsuit would be filed. Her lawyers also demanded that Diana Hart and her co-author Kirstie McLennan and the companies that published and distributed the book negotiate an out-of-court settlement. Martha is alleging the book is "filled with distortions, misstatements, and unjustified slurs that attempt to destroy the reputation of my family and me, and undermine the memory of Owen. I have no choice but to deliver a formal libel notice." Dave notes that Diana Hart has pretty much alienated herself from the entire rest of the Hart family, including members of the family who have usually been on her side. Diana responded to the lawsuit threat calling Martha a rich bully who is trying to silence her. "Martha has the money to fight me on it and I don't," she responded in an interview. "Maybe she thinks that's how she'll win this but I know what I've written is true." Dave says the book negatively portrays Martha throughout the whole thing and also painted a negative portrayal of Owen's marriage to her. As mentioned last week, Diana recently appeared on a late night talk show to promote the book in Canada and seemed totally out of it, which drew comparisons to the infamous Farrah Fawcett/David Letterman interview a couple of years ago. This week, Chyna was on that same talk show and the host mentioned Diana's recent appearance and joked that he didn't think Diana could have even read her own book, much less written it. Anyway, Dave wouldn't be surprised to see Diana get hit with more lawsuits because the book is just outrageous and full of obviously libelous material and he's shocked any publisher dared put it out to begin with.
Dave wants to take a moment to thank all the people involved with helping to promote his new "Tributes" book. He spent the last week in Toronto doing promotion on all the news stations, radio appearances, several TV shows, Off The Record, some afternoon talk shows, book signings, Q&As, and more. He thanks all those people, the publishers, the readers, etc. The book is available at most major bookstores throughout North America now as well as Amazon. In its first week, the book outsold both Diana Hart's book and Kurt Angle's book in Canada. To be fair, Dave admits that Angle's book has been out for a couple of months already, but it was still on the bestseller list until just a week or two ago. But still, Dave's pretty proud of how this all turned out and is eternally grateful to everyone who helped and yada yada.
The voting is open for the 22nd annual year-end Observer Awards. Needless to say, 2001 was an interesting year. The wrestling bubble burst, ECW and WCW went extinct, and WWF went from being the most successful company in the world to...well, still the most successful company in the world, but they had the greatest angle of all time handed to them and fumbled it and as a result, business collapsed. Anyway, Dave breaks down all the categories and what they mean and all that fun shit. Cast your votes now!
Carlos Colon's younger brother Noel Colon was shot and killed in San Juan, Pureto Rico last week in his office. Noel worked as the president of a transportation company and had just fired an employee. That employee left and then returned with a gun and shot Colon 4 times in the head and chest. Colon was rushed to the hospital but died there (no word if Carlos helped cover this one up too).
Hayabusa is still hospitalized. He was expected to be moved to a rehab facility but got sick with pneumonia in the hospital, which apparently isn't uncommon for people who basically can't move for long periods of time.
Lots of drama coming out of the King of the Indies tournament a few weeks ago that was held by APW in California. For starters, APW lost more than $10,000 on the show so that's bad news. And then there was a lot of arguments over who should win. APW owner Roland Alexander at first wanted Low-Ki to win the tournament but then Christopher Daniels pushed for Donovan Morgan to win because he's the local guy who has to help carry APW. So Morgan was going to win. But then, the owner changed his mind again and decided American Dragon should win (which he ultimately did). This, along with some bickering over who would run APW's training school, led to Morgan and Michael Modest apparently quitting and planning to open up their own wrestling school and promotion.
Chyna was scheduled to play the starring role in a stage production called My Darling Judith, but the play was cancelled just before its opening. No reason given, but Dave suspects poor ticket sales.
Hey, the XWF has its own section now! Anyway, a bunch more notes from the recent tapings: Nasty Boys became the first tag team champions. Rena Mero is the commissioner and with Roddy Piper running the show and they teased friction between them, which is supposed to lead to a Piper heel turn eventually. Piper also hosted a Piper's Pit segment, which they called "In Your Face with Rowdy Roddy Piper" because they can't legally call it Piper's Pit. Low-Ki worked the tapings, using the name Quick Kick. Juventud Guerrera won the cruiserweight title. They also set up a mixed tag storyline with Jerry Lawler and a new valet named Kitten against Simon Diamond and Dawn Marie, but with Lawler now back in WWF, who knows what will become of that. Former WCW women Leia Meow, Gorgeous George, and Nitro Girl Chiquita are doing a Charlie's Angels gimmick. Buff Bagwell was supposed to come in as one of the top babyfaces, but the crowd brutally booed him and chanted "Bagwell sucks" and "You got fired!" so on the taping for the next episode, they had no choice but to turn him heel. And then they did a promo thing referencing his being fired from WWF and the rumors of his mom calling in sick for him and all that shit. Dave says that's fine for the internet crowd, but this is a company that is allegedly trying to land a national TV deal and compete with WWF, and Dave doesn't like that they're referencing obscure stuff like that which most wrestling fans know nothing about (much less a crowd of tourists that were mostly just looking for somewhere to sit down for a little while and got begged into being part of a wrestling audience). Booking for the minority of internet hardcore fans is Russo-type shit and Dave hopes they don't make a habit of it (XWF isn't around long enough to form any habits). Vampiro appears to be getting pushed hard as one of the top stars. And a couple of matches sucked so bad that they re-taped them the next day.
As for the XWF in general, the reports have been mixed. Everyone involved had nothing but great things to say about how well-run and organized things were and everyone was treated well. The matches were said to be pretty bad considering most of the roster are either green bodybuilders or washed up 80s stars. Jerry Lawler was said to be fantastic on commentary while Tony Schiavone was, well, Tony Schiavone (people these days tend to forget how much 2001 Tony didn't give a single iota of a fuck about wrestling anymore). Of all the wrestlers, AJ Styles and Christopher Daniels reportedly impressed people the most, which doesn't surprise Dave at all. Roddy Piper was more coherent than he ever was in WCW, while Rena Mero got shockingly little reaction, to the point that even people backstage were surprised at how not over she was.
Notes from Raw: as mentioned, Heyman was "fired" from commentary and replaced by Lawler. It was a way to totally write Heyman off as an on-screen character, and he will continue to work backstage as a writer. Dave says they should bring him back eventually as a heel manager because good lord, can that guy cut a promo (they do indeed bring him back about 6 months after this, as Brock Lesnar's manager). Trish vs. Lita was arguably the worst 2:44 of wrestling in a major promotion that Dave has seen all year. Then a Dudleyz vs. RVD handicap tables match went sideways when the table didn't break as originally planned and they had to improvise some spots to finish the match. Then they had a segment with Vince firing Shane and Stephanie. First Shane came out, said he lost to a better man, and walked out. The original plan was for Shane to be humiliated and dragged out kicking and screaming, much like Heyman and Stephanie were, but Shane didn't want to do that and Vince ultimately agreed. Also, among the wrestlers privately (because no one dares say it publicly), there was some heat on Shane because he took everyone's finishers the night before and was carried out of the arena, but showed up on Raw not selling anything. Then they did do the kicking and screaming and crying gimmick with Stephanie being dragged out. Shane will be strictly behind the scenes for now, but Dave expects Stephanie back on-screen sooner than later since Triple H is returning soon. Then, Vince McMahon made William Regal literally kiss his ass (the debut of the Kiss My Ass Club) with Vince actually showing some of his bare ass and Regal kissing it. Dave found this whole thing pretty awful and he apparently wasn't alone, as viewers tuned out of this segment in massive numbers according to the ratings. And then the Flair debut to end it.
Notes from Smackdown: they hyped up the December PPV with Michael Cole reading lines that were clearly edited into the show during post production where he teased that they would have a unification match and crown the first ever undisputed champion in the 100-year history of professional wrestling. For starters, that's obviously not true. But even if it was, Dave is just amazed that WWF actually acknowledged that pro wrestling existed prior to 1984. Sharmell Sullivan debuted on the main roster after shockingly little time in developmental as a backstage interviewer. Undertaker vs. Kurt Angle was a really good match and for once, Undertaker actually went out of his way to sell for Angle and treated him like someone who is on his level.
Dave also reviews Smackdown from the previous week since I guess he didn't get a chance before because he was out of town doing book publicity tour shit. Anyway, he says the much-talked about Paul Heyman promo was indeed one of the best promos he's seen in a long time. In regards to the entire Invasion storyline, Dave also says, "Got a feeling this angle will historically be looked at as the single greatest botched angle in wrestling history." (18 years later and....yup. I don't think there's even a close 2nd place) Dave thinks it's sad to imagine how great this angle could have been if they had Heyman delivering these kinds of promos the whole time and really building the Alliance up as equals to WWF, but alas. Dave also seems to think the "What?" chants are getting annoying and notes that people were even doing it at the XWF tapings.
Remember how company president and COO Stuart Snyder was fired a few weeks ago? Dave has more details. Snyder was actually brought in to help WWF expand into other forms of entertainment, such as WWF-produced movies and the failed WWF casino idea in Vegas. Snyder actually didn't have much knowledge of the wrestling business, but Vince wants the WWF to be an overall entertainment conglomerate, not just wrestling. But with business plummeting right now, they decided it might not be the right time for that kind of expansion and Snyder was let go. Also, Snyder was said to be pushing hard for WWF to settle their conflict with DirecTV, but Vince refuses to budge on that issue and refuses to settle and that was a touchy issue with them. Vince has never been good about backing down from a fight publicly, even when it's the smart or right thing to do.
Torrie Wilson appeared on the Howard Stern show this week. She mentioned that she recently got engaged to Billy Kidman. Dave says that's gotta be rough on Kidman, because the WWF sees Torrie as a potential megastar while they clearly don't have any plans for him. That sort of thing can put a lot of pressure on a relationship. Anyway, that's all Dave seems to know. He didn't actually see or hear it. But DDP was also on the show with Torrie. Here's the full interview and it's basically what you'd expect when Howard Stern has a hot chick in front of him:
In OVW, Rico Constantino lost a Loser Leaves Town match to Prototype, which means Constantino is finally going to be moving up to the main roster. He got a standing ovation from the crowd afterwards and thanked them for their support. Dave thinks it's going to be interesting to see how his run in WWF goes. Constantino is already 40 years old and that's a tough age to be starting out in the WWF, but he's also really good and well-rounded at all aspects of the business, so who knows.
Mike Awesome suffered a torn ACL and it couldn't have come at a worse time. Awesome says he's trying to avoid needing surgery and is getting a second opinion but with all the rumors of Alliance guys being let go soon due to all the company layoffs, it's a pretty bad time to be sidelined with an injury. Wrestlers in the past have continued working with torn ACLs so it's not unheard of, but it's definitely not the best idea.
The first major review of the upcoming Scorpion King movie starring the Rock is in and it's very negative. Ain't It Cool News reviewed the film calling it a "sad, cliched, poorly acted, horribly written and sadly directed piece of garbage." So.....not great. The movie comes out next year.
Lita was on the cover of TV Guide in Canada and was interviewed. She said her worst injury in wrestling was a dislocated collarbone and shoulder blade from being power bombed by Eddie Guerrero outside the ring.
On his website, Kurt Angle made a post saying that his wife's recent comments about RVD (that he was too dangerous and keeps hurting her husband) were just her opinions as a fan and not his. However, for what it's worth, Kurt Angle was on ESPN a few weeks ago and mentioned a wrestler who had broken his nose in a match recently and then said he would refuse to dignify the guy by even saying his name on the show. But he was clearly talking about RVD. Definitely seems to be some heat between him and Angle.
You may have noticed that William Regal has been suffering bloody noses pretty much every time he wrestles lately. His nose is smashed and infected and bleeds with pretty much any physical exertion and he now needs surgery on it to fix it. But he can't get the surgery until they treat the infection.
DDP was on a radio show doing an interview and admitted that he ended up missing out on about $500,000 by taking a buyout and signing with WWF rather than sitting home and collecting the rest of his WCW contract. Given how his WWF run has gone, probably not the wisest decision in retrospect.
WEDNESDAY:Yuji Nagata to face Mirko Cro Cop, more on WWF essentially resetting the company, Chyna on Howard Stern, and more...
Going through old issues of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter and posting highlights in my own words. For anyone interested, I highly recommend signing up for the actual site at f4wonline and checking out the full archives. PREVIOUS YEARS ARCHIVE: 1991 • 1992 • 1993 • 1994 • 1995 • 1996 • 1997 • 1998 • 1999 • 2000
The wrestling industry in the United States is in uncharted waters right now and Dave is starting this issue by examining the overall situation. Part of it is due to outside factors. The mood of the country is still shaken by the events of 9/11 and the effects of the attack on the economy are still uncertain. WWF is the only major pro wrestling company and its closest competitor is UFC, which isn't even wrestling. Dave says it's been a horrible year for the business, with WCW and ECW folding. Wrestling magazines closing up shop. The Invasion angle was totally botched. By every metric, business is declining. It's a terrible time to start a new company in the U.S. because getting a major league product off the ground is a just too expensive. Dave thinks the WWA idea in Australia might be the best option right now. Build some buzz over there where the market is easier and then try to strike a deal to air it in the U.S. But the biggest problem with WWA is, well, Vince Russo is the guy in charge. Dave says that Russo's idea of wrestling was a massive failure in WCW and the problem is that he didn't learn from it, and to this day continues to blame his WCW failures on outside forces (18 years later, that hasn't changed). Dave expects WWF to feel the crunch of business declining and suspects that many of the low-paid developmental wrestlers under contracts should probably start being concerned for their jobs.
WWF and DirecTV struck a temporary deal to air the Unforgiven PPV. If you recall, they have been negotiating a new deal and it wasn't going well. But the two sides agreed to air Unforgiven under the terms of the old deal while they continue to negotiate a new one. Not airing the show would have cost both sides around $1 million each in lost profits, so needless to say, they both want to settle this. So for now, negotiations continue...
The unpredictable concerns over the economy in the wake of 9/11 are already becoming noticeable. Merch sales for WWF were down significantly since the attacks. House shows this week did okay but most of those tickets were bought when they first went on sale weeks and months ago, prior to the attack. The next round of house shows go on sale this week and seeing how those sell will be the real test. One WWF house show in Fairfax, VA was already cancelled this week due to low advance sales. WWF is also scheduled to return to Madison Square Garden in 2 weeks. Tickets for that show went on sale before 9/11 and were already weak and needless to say, they aren't picking up any steam now. Rock is working that show (one of the few house shows he's doing) and it seems that since returning from filming Scorpion King, even the Rock doesn't have the same drawing power he had beforehand. That being said, WWF has lots of revenue streams, lots of cash reserves, lots of stock they can sell, and they pay their wrestlers far less than any other sport. So WWF is uniquely positioned to weather this storm and probably still be okay.
For UFC, on the other hand, 9/11 couldn't have happened at a worse time. UFC's parent company Zuffa is based out of Las Vegas and the attacks have hit the Vegas casino business hard, with cancelled trips, people spending less money, etc. Nobody wants to get on a plane these days, much less just to fly to Vegas and throw away money in an uncertain economy. Zuffa owner Lorenzo Fertitta, who operates casinos in Vegas, also owns an investment company whose major offices were in the World Trade Center. Financially, Fertitta is getting hit on all sides right now, right as he's trying to get the revived UFC off the ground.
Oh yeah, speaking of WWF Unforgiven, that show is in the books and was highlighted by Kurt Angle winning the WWF title from Steve Austin in his hometown by making Austin tap out clean. The crowd was kinda flat for most of the show, despite a lot of good matches. From a long-term booking standpoint, Angle winning the title doesn't make a ton of sense, because there's a lot of mileage in Austin as champion, but it seemed as though the decision was made to give the crowd a feel-good ending considering the last few weeks the country has had (Bruce Prichard later admitted that, yeah, having Angle win the title here was purely a short-term "give the American audience something patriotic" decision). There were also a bunch of minor injuries during the show with Perry Saturn, Edge, Jericho, and Austin all got busted up lips or eyes.
The biggest story coming out of the show was the UndertakeKane vs. Kronik match which was so bad that it resulted in Kronik leaving the company after only debuting 3 weeks ago. Dave says it was the worst WWF PPV match of the year. No word on why Kronik left yet (some say they quit after the match and others say they were fired) but they have already reached out to Russo about working the WWA tour in Australia. The big story going around is that Jim Ross told them they would be sent to OVW or HWA for more training and in protest, they quit but Dave hasn't been able to verify that. If it's true, Dave suspects WWF was hoping they would quit because those 2 guys have lots of experience (both have worked for WWF in the past) so Dave feels like this might have been a way to push them into quitting. Considering they're not great workers anyway and they were notorious troublemakers in WCW, Dave doesn't understand why they were even hired in the first place, aside from the fact that Brian Adams and Undertaker are friends and it was basically a favor for Taker. (Dave clarifies a bit of this in later issues, not all of that is entirely correct).
Other notes from the PPV: Dave points out that Raven is in the best shape he's been in years. The first Edge vs. Christian match, which needed to be a star-making performance for both guys as they branch off as singles stars, was good but the lack of crowd reaction hurt it a lot. The aforementioned Kronik match gets negative-2 stars. RVD was one of the few guys to get a reaction, as the crowd was nuclear for him. This is the match where Jericho got his eye busted from a kick and needed stitches and Dave says RVD is getting a reputation for this sort of thing, which isn't good. And Angle's family celebrated with him in the ring after he won the title and they played it up as if he finally achieved his life-long dream, conveniently forgetting that Angle's already won the title once before. Lots of 3 and 4 star matches here, but the crowd really hurt the show overall.
UFC 33 is happening before you read this but after press time, so Dave hasn't seen it yet. And I wouldn't normally cover this but this show is legendarily bad, so here we go. Things were looking good at first. The show sold out weeks in advance, setting a record live gate and attendance for the company and UFC did a hell of a job promoting the main event for months beforehand. But then 9/11 happened and the economic woes of that are expected to take a toll on the buyrate. Then, due to 9/11, the high-profile Felix Trinidad vs. Bernard Hopkins boxing match got moved to within 24 hours of the UFC PPV, which is also expected to cause a major hit to UFC's PPV numbers. Then 10 days before the show, Vitor Belfort had to pull out of the show due to an arm injury in training, completely derailing the main event they spent months building. Vitor somehow fell through a glass window during training and suffered a horrible cut that required 40 stitches and partially severed his tricep. When he couldn't go, UFC scrambled to find a new, big name opponent for Tito Ortiz. First, they reached out to Ken Shamrock and offered him $180,000 to take the fight on a week's notice. Shamrock countered, asking for $500,000 and that pretty much ended those negotiations. So then Frank Shamrock was offered $150,000 but also turned it down, not wanting to risk his 4+ year unbeaten streak by taking a fight on such short notice with no time to train and prepare. It eventually went to Russian fighter Vladimir Matyushenko. Many insiders are predicting Matyushenko will win because he's a better wrestler and punches harder. Dave gives credit to Ortiz for also taking this fight without having time to prepare for it and thinks it's a hell of a risk for Ortiz. So we'll see.
Antonio Inoki and the promoters from PRIDE and K-1 held a joint press conference in Japan to announce another Inoki New Year's Eve show taking place on 12/31. It will be a joint show with PRIDE fighters, K-1 fighters, and pro wrestlers. The hook for the show is that there's expected to be a lot of Inoki's guys (all of whom fight for PRIDE) going against K-1 fighters, so basically inter-promotional MMA with a wrestling twist.
The idea of Universal getting into the wrestling biz is back on the table and it looks to be a go starting in November. Hulk Hogan had been in talks with Universal off and on for most of this year about starting a new promotion but as of press time, word is Hogan is not involved in this. Hogan is said to be more interested in returning to WWF than he is running his own promotion but until his lawsuit with Time Warner (over the whole Vince Russo/Bash 2000 incident) is settled, he probably won't be doing anything. Hogan is trying to argue in the lawsuit that the incident damaged his career, and it's going to be hard to prove that if he goes back to WWF and has a big money-making run there. Plus he's still recovering from a recent knee surgery. Jimmy Hart has continued negotiating with Universal and it appears he and Nasty Boy Brian Knobs will be running this new promotion, with Kevin Sullivan helping with booking. A 2-hour pilot is scheduled for filming in November and several former WCW stars and other unsigned names (mostly old 80s stars) have been contacted about coming in. They're also looking at some younger indie names and seem especially interested in former ECW star Super Crazy. Dave expects this to be run like an old Memphis-style studio territory show and figures Jerry Lawler will probably be involved too unless he re-signs with WWF before then. Anyway, Dave doesn't seem to have high hopes for this succeeding (indeed, it does not).
And now we have an article from Ben Miller. Dave drops an editor's note and says to welcome Ben Miller as a columnist for the Observer and expects him to have a column in here once a month or so. It's fine I guess, but it's really just an opinion piece by some guy who isn't Dave. But to his credit, it's a well-written column that makes some good points about what WWF needs to do to improve and make the Invasion angle and upcoming brand split work. But it just feels out of place here in the Observer. I believe Miller later become a columnist on the website and was involved for years after this.
In Puerto Rico, former WWF wrestler Tiger Ali Singh now wrestles for IWA and since 9/11, he has become the biggest heel in the promotion, with the fans chanting "terrorist!" at him (just in case you're wondering, Singh is from India and is not Muslim).
Remember the MMA fighter Brian Johnston who suffered a major stroke backstage at the last PRIDE show? Good news! It was originally thought he would be paralyzed from it and confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life, but in the last few weeks, he's made a miraculous recovery, regaining a good deal of movement on his right side and is even able to stand with assistance. He still can't talk but he has total recognition of people who visit him. Doctors are optimistic that he will make a full recovery and should be able to walk again, although it would take an even bigger miracle for him to ever compete in MMA or wrestling again. (Here's an article about him from 2013. Long story short, he mostly recovered. He still suffers symptoms and doesn't have full motor control, but he recovered well enough to pretty much live a full life. But no, he never fought again).
Antonio Inoki finally made it back to Japan after being stranded in the U.S. after 9/11. As soon as he got back, he spoke with the media and criticized NJPW for the main event of their upcoming Tokyo Dome show, saying nobody wanted to see it and bashing them for not booking Fujita vs. Ogawa instead. Dave thinks this is some peak-WCW shit. The most popular icon in company history rips into his own company right before a big show, saying their main event sucks and nobody wants to see it. That's gonna do wonders for ticket sales. At least in WCW, the owners of the company weren't criticizing it publicly. While we're on the subject, Dave reviews the most recent NJPW TV show and says it's WCW-in-its-last-year levels of bad. Three different matches get negative star ratings. ("dAvE iS bIAsEd fOR neW jaPAn!")
Bushwhacker Butch was hospitalized this week with a staph infection. He had complained of a neck injury and then passed out and was rushed to the hospital and diagnosed with staph and pneumonia. As of press time, he's still hospitalized and breathing through tubes (yeah he ended up getting sepsis and nearly dying).
In regards to the WWA tour in Australia, Vince Russo is reportedly pushing to have toplessness or maybe even full-frontal nudity for a women's bra & panties-type of match on the PPV they're filming. One of the women is former ECW/WCW valet Kimona/Leah Meow (so yeah, this match happened, but she wasn't in it. It was 3 women and a guy in drag, all nameless people who never went anywhere in the business. It was called a Skin To Win match. Two of the women (Penthouse Pets brought in to "wrestle" end up getting their tops taken off but they were wearing pasties because I assume they were forced to. When this PPV aired in the U.S., the match was edited off. Russo's brilliant billion dollar idea that would have revolutionized the industry, foiled by the censors again!).
Dave has been hearing rave reviews about a 4-way indie match featuring American Dragon, Low Ki, Christopher Daniels and Scoot Andrews, with many who saw it calling it the independent match of the year. Dave hasn't seen it yet but expects to have a tape in a week or two and will report back.
The New York Times did an interview with Linda McMahon for a story about how WWF is handling the current real-world situation in the wake of 9/11. The story hasn't ran yet but it's expected to reference WWF's exploitation of the Gulf War in 1991. In the interview, Linda mentioned that the name 'Raw Is War' is going to be changed to simply 'Raw' and that the December PPV Armageddon will be renamed (it becomes Vengeance). She also admitted that the events of 9/11 did play a part in Kurt Angle winning the WWF title this past week (I completely forgot Linda admitted it here).
Notes from Raw: Dave says it was a strange show. For starters, the night before at the PPV, they talked about having a big birthday celebration for Stephanie on Raw the next night. But that didn't happen. Stephanie's birthday was acknowledged, but there was no big party or angle about it. They also spent the entire episode teasing what would happen when Austin showed up but the entire show aired and....he never arrived. Dave again points out that hyping something for 2 hours and then simply not delivering is some WCW shit (it's also some 2019 WWE shit). There were several little things like that throughout the show also. Dave thinks back to 18 months ago when WCW used to do dumb shit every episode and he would always write, "WWF would never do this," and here we are 18 months later and it's happening all the time. Shane McMahon announced a match with Kurt Angle defending the WWF title against Booker T, leading Dave to wonder how in the hell Shane, as part of the Alliance, has the authority to make WWF title matches. DDP is now doing a self-help gimmick (who'da ever guessed?). RVD has been getting over huge as a face lately, so of course they put him in a match with Rock (the most popular guy in the company) and had him lose clean, which accomplished nothing other than killing RVD's momentum.
Sean O'Haire got into a fight in the crowd at an indie MMA show last week and was actually choked out by another fighter before the police broke it up. The guy who choked him out was also a lot smaller than him, but he also came up behind O'Haire to do it. But size doesn't matter and Dave says when a trained fighter gets the jump on you from behind and puts you in a choke, you're probably going to sleep no matter how big you are. That being said, O'Haire is lucky he doesn't work for Bill Watts because losing a real fight (to someone smaller than you no less) as a pro wrestler would get you fired back in Watts' day. O'Haire and the other guy were arrested after O'Haire was awakened from his slumber.
Eddie Guerrero is expected to leave rehab soon. During his time in treatment, Guerrero has been living with Tom Prichard, who has also been battling some addiction issues. Guerrero is still being paid his downside guarantee and is expected to be brought back to TV when he's done with rehab. Dave talks about how some guys don't succeed in rehab but then points out how William Regal is seen as the best case scenario. Regal had a nasty drug habit and was on the verge of washing out of the business and being deported, but he cleaned himself up and is now back on WWF TV in a prominent role and doing great. Dave hopes the same for Guerrero. When he's out, he'll probably spend some time in OVW first before returning to WWF.
Jim Ross answered a bunch of media questions on some conference thing last week. It was mostly a discussion about the future plans for WCW and since there isn't any definite plan yet, he had to be vague. Praised Booker T, RVD, and Kanyon for being 3 of the WCW guys to adapt well to WWF. Others praised Hurricane for the same but Ross was kinda dismissive of him, seeming not to agree. Noted that Jazz from ECW has signed and will be working with Sharmell Sullivan in OVW. Speaking of Sharmell, she was pretty much only signed as a favor to Booker T. He also praised Rey Mysterio and Juventud Guerrera but basically said there's no place for them in WWF right now. Ross was asked about Ken Shamrock and praised him but said Shamrock has a lot of MMA stuff he wants to do and only wants to wrestle in WWF part-time. But they want him full-time, which is why he hasn't been brought back at all. In regards to Rock's blooming Hollywood career, Ross shrugged it off and basically said Rock is under contract to be a wrestler full-time and that's what he loves to do. Ross predicted that Rock may take off once a year to film a movie but that the WWF is his priority. Time will tell on that. If his movie career takes off, Dave doesn't see Rock sticking around.
Various WWF notes: the list of wrestlers who are hurt right now in WWF is absurd. Dave says it would be easier to list who's not hurt. Anyway, Dave lists everyone who's hurt, their injuries, their surgeries, when they're expected back, etc. There's going to be a WWF-themed episode of NBC's The Weakest Link show featuring WWF stars taping this week. Mick Foley is appearing on Celebrity Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. Shane McMahon was on the Opie & Anthony Show and was asked about Stephanie's breast implants, which led Shane to respond that "they are 2 good reasons to tune into Smackdown this week." Dave thinks that's kinda weird. Sara Undertaker has dyed her hair brown and is training to wrestle.
WWF is meeting with former WCW wrestler The Wall next month. He was originally going to be signed and brought in when they bought WCW, but then they learned he had a pretty nasty drug problem so they passed on him. Dave kinda doubts they'll hire him. He's big, but he's also not very good and already in his 30s with a drug strike against him. They might sign him and send him to developmental but they already have a ton of guys wasting away down there already.
If you've been noticing all the references to Ric Flair on WWF TV lately, it's not an accident. There has been a lot of consideration recently of buying out the remainder of his Time Warner contract. The reality is WWF has completely failed to create any new stars out of the WCW names they signed and if they are serious about running WCW as its own brand next year, they need big names. The other names discussed were Sting and Goldberg, but they both have a lot higher contracts with more time left on them and economically, it just doesn't make sense to WWF right now to bring them in. That being said, Dave kinda questions how valuable Ric Flair could be in WWF these days. WWF has a younger audience than WCW did and Flair isn't getting any younger. He can talk his ass off but as far as working matches, Dave doesn't seem to see much value in Flair as an in-ring guy beyond a few nostalgia matches with big name WWF stars. All in all, Dave feels like bringing in these big name WCW stars would have worked much better if they did it at the beginning of the angle months ago. Although in the end, it doesn't matter who they had. The way it was booked, with WWF just rolling over WCW like they were nothing and nobody wanting to sell for or put over the WCW stars, it would have still failed no matter who they had.
The latest on Triple H is that he isn't expected to make it back by Survivor Series as originally hoped. Now it's looking more like December (not quite).
FRIDAY:First season of Tough Enough comes to an end, WWF ordered to pay the World Wildlife Fund's legal bills, details on new XWF promotion, more on Kronik, NJPW ticket sales, and more...
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